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Learning Symptoms before Period

Written by Elizabeth Buescher, Gynecologist

If you are having a regular ovulatory period, your symptoms can occur like clockwork. You have about 3-5 days of bleeding followed by a week or so of no bleeding until you ovulate. After you ovulate, you have 14 days before period starts again. The whole cycle lasts about 28 days, although it can be longer if you ovulate late.

Some women have no PMS symptoms while others get bloating, irritability, flu-like symptoms that can last from two weeks until you get your period up to a week before period. Before you start your period, you may get cramping, which heralds the onset of period symptoms. When you get your period or before a missed period, you can get debilitating symptoms that can make it difficult for you to go about your daily activities. Every period is different and every woman’s experience of her period is unique.

PMS Symptoms before Period

If you are unlucky enough to get a lot of PMS symptoms before a period, the symptoms can be anywhere within a two-week window between ovulation and the start of the next period. Some women experience emotional lability, moodiness, and irritability usually made worse if you have a yeast infection during that time. You may notice that your jeans are too tight from bloating or that you have cramps and difficulty sleeping. PMS symptoms are usually tolerable and can be handled with over the counter diuretic pills or pain medication to control cramping and other physical discomforts.

Some women have such severe symptoms that they carry the diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. With PMDD, the symptoms are so debilitating that they interfere with a normal quality of life. They need to take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, which are normally used for depression but seem to work well in women who have severe PMS symptoms. They are taken every day to relieve the emotional and mental symptoms many women experience before they get their period.

When do PMS Symptoms start before period?

PMS symptoms are a result of hormonal changes occurring after ovulation. This means that they occur as early as two weeks before you have your next period. Some women don’t notice much at all while others feel very bloated, have emotional problems, feel irritable, and have constant cramping, leading them to believe that their period could come at any minute. Some women have nausea or flu-like symptoms just before the period starts. When the period begins, most of these symptoms go away, and the woman is just left with some cramping and bleeding. At the onset of bleeding, this is when another period month starts.

How soon do PMS symptoms start before period?

If you don’t have any ovulation or if your ovulations are far apart, you may not have any PMS symptoms at all. PMS is usually triggered by ovulation and the hormonal milieu that follows ovulation. Anovulatory cycles tend to be shorter in duration, as short as 21 days apart. While they often involve heavier periods, anovulatory cycles are easier to tolerate for many women than ovulatory cycles.

From the time of ovulation to the date of the next period is almost always exactly 14 days. This is the length of time the corpus luteum on the ovary has to support a possible growing embryo until it implants and begins making its own hormones support a pregnancy. If this doesn’t happen within the fourteen-day window, another cycle starts.

What are the symptoms before you get your period?

Most symptoms are mild and involve having mild cramping and bloating. Clothes don’t fit well, and you may have to go a size up in jeans due to abdominal bloating. Other women get mostly emotional symptoms before a period. They get irritability, depression, tearfulness, and moodiness that starts after ovulation and doesn’t end until the onset of the period. These are women who are prone to depression and anxiety. They don’t tolerate the hormonal milieu of the last two weeks of their cycle, and so they do better with antidepressant medication taken every day and not just before their period. This tends to improve the premenstrual symptoms so that the last 14 days of the cycle are tolerable.

What are some symptoms before your period if it is anovulatory?

Periods that don’t involve ovulation are heavier and last longer than periods with ovulation. This is due to estrogen dominance, which builds up the uterine lining, so there are more bleeding and less cramping. The typical PMS symptoms aren’t seen in most anovulatory cycles, and you can’t get pregnant during an anovulatory cycle. The bleeding you get with an anovulatory cycle is just withdrawal bleeding from a reduction in estrogen. Cramping can occur, but there aren’t the usual PMS symptoms you see in ovulatory cycles. If you have anovulatory cycles and want to become pregnant, you need to see a doctor about simulating ovulation.